More than three years after Manvers residents first learned their hillsides could house three wind turbine projects, opponents are still waiting for answers to their concerns.
Area residents attended two more public consultation meetings – one in Bethany on Jan. 10 and the other in Pontypool on Jan. 11 – in search of answers and to, once again, hammer home their message that wind turbines are not welcome.
“I think they’ve [the company] gotten a very good handle on how the community feels,” said Heather Stauble, a concerned resident and the area’s City of Kawartha Lakes City councillor. “The company has grossly underestimated the people. When we started, people didn’t understand the scale and the potential effects [of wind turbines]. Anyone who lives within the project areas can now tell you all about them.”
They’re people like Judy Price who lives on Lifford Road.
Should the project proceed in its current state, she will have an excellent view of several wind turbines.
She counts herself lucky.
Some of her neighbours will share their property with the turbines.
When she and her husband bought their current home – a former farm and “fixer-upper” – the plan was to retire amongst the serenity and beauty of Manvers’s rolling hills. Her answer was an emphatic ‘no’ when a company representative stopped by to ask if the Prices would be interested in having a test tower located on their property. While she doesn’t have anything against the company employees who have occasionally found themselves facing some very angry – and vocal – project opponents, Mrs. Price said there are times when their answers contradict what she knows or there is no answer at all.
“We have relatives in the Shelbourne area so we know all about these turbines,” said Mrs. Price. “Their real estate values were affected. Yet they [company] says they won’t. It makes it hard to trust the studies….especially when the corporation is putting more emphasis on money and less so on alternatives.”
The government has likewise not impressed Mrs. Price.
“Our democratic rights as a municipality, as a town, are being trampled and ignored,” said Mrs. Price who supports those who stand against the projects. “They know they’re fighting a very precarious battle…and they’re going toe-to-toe with a giant. I have to respect them for it.”
Mrs. Price said, since the issue first surfaced more than three years ago, she has actually “lost sleep” thinking about the future and the “human” impact of the projects. Her husband has hyper-sensitive hearing, she explained, and she believes he will be significantly affected by turbine noise. To her knowledge, there have been no studies done regarding this condition.
Further more, despite comments and questions raised at several consultation meetings, hundreds, if not thousands, of letters and e-mails have not been answered and Ms Stauble said many people still find staff’s answers “evasive.” There are also outstanding reports that she said the companies won’t share – such as the mapping of natural features and water bodies – while others are not current or accurate.
David Eva, project management director with Sprott Power Corp. which is working with Zero Emission People (ZEP) and M.K. Ince on the Snowy Ridge and Settlers Landing turbine projects, said every effort is being made to ensure changes to the project are posted and information is accessible. Public comments are helpful and, even as the projects near the point of applying to the Ministry of the Environment for a Renewable Energy Approval, will continue to be a part of the process.
Mr. Eva acknowledges the concerns and opposition to the project, but believes the project is “well-designed in accordance with government regulations and efforts are being taken to ensure a negative health impact.” He added questions made at public meetings, like last week’s, are logged and a consultation report, along with their own project reports, will be submitted to the Ministry.
The application will then be reviewed by the Ministry, which could take six to eight months, after which there will be additional opportunity for public input.
Should all proceed as planned, Mr. Eva said, in a best case scenario, permits would be awarded in late 2013 with construction beginning in summer 2014.
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